Monday, April 16, 2012

Life in our Life Group

Yesterday was a transition Sunday for sermon series and thus for Life Group curriculum. We finished a series last week with the Easter message. We start a new series next week titled, "Live like you were dying". I understand from the promotion video shown in church yesterday that's based on a song of the same title. I've never heard the song.

Yesterday was our annual Faith Promise "convention"—that is, our time to make pledges on faith for giving to world missions. I put convention in quotes because the way we do this has changed greatly over the years. It used to be we had Tuesday through Sunday services, with a banquet on Saturday. A missionary on deputation tour did the speaking, showing off artifacts and telling stories of work and successes on the mission field.

Over the years the time dedicated to the convention shrunk. We went to Wednesday through Sunday, then Friday through Sunday, then a Saturday night banquet and the two Sunday services, then just Sunday with the banquet after the morning service. Yesterday we truncated it further, having just the morning service and banquet. That's a mighty small convention.

So the Life Group curriculum was based on an article about the current status of world missions and how it has changed over the years, and how the United States is perhaps the largest country in the world that needs to be evangelized. It was my week to teach, and I must confess to not reading the entire article or the teaching notes on it. I spot-read both. Since we have Life Group after the first service, while the second service is going on, we have the advantage of having just heard the sermon. That is a great spurt to discussion, making the teacher's job easier. So I read enough to plan out a line of discussion, about all my Saturday brain allowed me to do.

The Life Group had other idea. Oh, we followed my lead as to the discussion, but upon the provocative idea that the USA needs more evangelism than most foreign countries, they picked up the ball and ran with it and I just listened. People who usually have little or nothing to say had a lot to say. Everyone in the class contributed. We discussed the USA, then our community, our church, and our Life Group. We brainstormed how to better work our congregation's local compassionate ministries into the church. We discussed directions for our Life Group, and how to better reach out to those in the church who have not yet connected to a group.

In the course of this, it became apparent that some people are struggling with various life issues. When our hour was up and most people headed to the banquet, five of us stayed behind to talk with a group member who was having a major struggle. We talked, prayed, encouraged, prayed some more, and made plans on how to help. We hope we did some good, though the struggle is deep, and may take much time to work out.

We got to the banquet late. Most of the food had been put away, along with the plates, silverware, and napkins. The dessert table was the typical end-of-dinner mess. But we found food to eat, and rejoiced that we had been involved in a God moment. May there be many more.

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